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As It Was: Knapp Hotel Attracts Dignitaries, Guides Ships into Harbor

The Knapp Hotel in Port Orford, Ore., was a lodging landmark for traveling dignitaries and a beacon for sailing ships until it was demolished in 1945 to make room for Highway 101.

In 1859, Louis Knapp arrived at the harbor with the intention of boarding a ship bound for San Francisco, but when stormy weather delayed his departure, Knapp accepted temporary employment at the local hotel.  When his mother came to visit and refused to leave, Knapp stayed, married, had two sons, and became the hotel’s manager.

The white building served as a marker for passing vessels and their navigators.  At night, the hotel kept  a lighted kerosene lamp in the window to guide ships into harbor.

The Knapps bought the hotel in 1883 and renamed and restored it.  The old fireplace remained intact to honor the noteworthy patrons who had sat and conversed around its glowing embers.

Among them were U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, in route to conduct the Alaska Purchase with Russia; Navy Capt. Alfred Mahan, a historian, and naval strategist; U. S. Navy Admirals Sebree, Helm, and Higbee; novelist Jack London; and poet Joaquin Miller.


Sources: "Oregon's Oldest Fireplace; Secretary Seward Sat Before It." Port Orford News, 22 Nov. 1927, p. 1.; Masterson, Patrick. Port Orford A History. Book Partners, Inc., 1994, p. 196.

Boice-Strain, Patti. Floras Creek Precinct and the Boice Family of Curry County. Hal & Patti Strain, 2003, p. 50.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.